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The Chinchaga is a large foothills area in northwestern Alberta.

The Chinchaga was recommended by the Alberta Government as the single best place for a large protected area in Alberta’s Foothills Natural Region but only protected 800 km2 under Special places.

    • Introduction
    • Concerns
    • Features
    • History
    • Archive
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    The Chinchaga is a large foothills area in northwestern Alberta, much of which has already been significantly impacted by industry. The Chinchaga was recommended by the Alberta Government as the single best place for a large protected area in Alberta’s Foothills Natural Region but only protected 800 km2 under Special places. AWA is seeking Wildland Park protection for 6,500 km2 of the Chinchaga.


    AWA is seeking Wildland Park protection for 6,500 km2 of the Chinchaga.


    • The Alberta Government’s own studies identified the Chinchaga as the “single best place for a large protected area in Alberta’s Foothills Natural Region”. However, in 1999 only 800 km2 of the Chinchaga was protected, an area too small to conserve biological diversity.
    • AWA is seeking protection of a larger area of 6,500 km2 which still remains relatively free of industrial disturbance.
    • The larger area can serve as an ecological benchmark that scientists can sue to compare human to natural disturbances. The smaller protected area could conceivably be destroyed in a single forest fire.
    • Implement the CAPP-ENGO agreement to phase out oil and gas dispositions.
    • Phase out existing timber dispositions.
    • Non further fragmentation of habitat through roads, clearcut logging and pipeline development.
    • Much of the Chinchaga has already been significantly fragmented and disturbed by forestry and oil and gas exploration and development
    • Logging of last remaining old growth forest in the area
    • Continued oil and gas development in the protected area
    • Critical wildlife habitat and natural areas at risk


    • A rolling topography of boreal forest interspersed with wetlands
    • Wide diversity of landforms and plant communities including wetlands, lakes, grasslands, mature and old growth forests of pine, black and white spruce and poplar
    • Elevation 700-1000 m

    Township and Range map: JPG | PDF
    Natural Subregions map:  JPG | PDF

    Natural Region

    • A large area in northwestern Alberta in the Northern Upper and Lower Foothills Natural Region


    • Chinchaga River (north), Clear River, Notikewin River, Peace River (south)


    • Critical habitat for Woodland caribou, grizzly bears, wolves, wolverines, lynx, and a wide range of other birds including many neotropical migratory birds
    • Peatlands south of Chinchaga River provide nesting grounds for Trumpeter swans


    Environmentally Significant
    Areas map:  JPG | PDF

    October 2003

    Conservationists including AWA, the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, the Sierra Club of Canada, Canadian Nature Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council in the U.S. call for a moratorium on further development in Chinchaga until permanent protection is established.

    April 2003

    AWA; Albertans for a Wild Chinchaga; Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Edmonton Chapter; and Federation of Alberta Naturalists make a submission to the Chinchaga Management Committee. Suggestions include enlarging the protected area and not allowing an increase in the use of OHVs.


    The Alberta government decides to prohibit logging in a 350,000-hectare area, the P-8 forest management unit, north of the Chinchaga Wildland Provincial Park. AWA believes that reducing forestry is a great first step in protecting the Chinchaga area. Oil and gas development is still permitted.

    June 2002

    In response to a letter from AWA, Minister Mike Cardinal states that the Alberta Government has “no plans to re-open discussion” about enlarging the Chinchaga Special Place. He notes that the Special Places program fully achieved it target with regards to the protection of the Central Mixedwood natural sub-region, established a total of 81 new and 13 expanded sites, and brought Alberta’s total protected land base to 12.5%, which he called “…a significant environmental achievement for all Albertans.” In reply to the Minister’s response, AWA points out that Chinchaga lies in the Foothills Region rather than the Central Mixedwood subregion of the Boreal Region. Only 2% of the Foothills region is protected. Additionally, AWA notes that 2/3 of the 12.5% of protected land in Alberta is federally protected. A meager 4% of provincially protected area represents “a slightly less ‘significant achievement for all Albertans.’”

    March 2002

    The Biophysical Inventory of Chinchaga Wildland Park is released.

    July 2001

    In a press release from AWA, CPAWS and, the conservation groups speak out again the Alberta Government’s private negotiations with Grande Alberta Paper (GAP) pulp and paper mill who wants to renegotiate their deal with the government for 10,000 square kilometers in the Chinchaga area. In 1996, Environment Minister Ty Lund had promised to give Albertans full access to information regarding the GAP project.

    February 2001

    Murphy Oil Company Ltd. applies to the National Energy Board to build a 17km 12-inch pipeline just outside of the new Chinchaga Wildland Park, through the middle of the Chinchaga candidate area and the Chinchaga caribou range.

    July 2000

    AWA announces that at least one petroleum company has requested that the petroleum rights in Milk River and Chinchaga be put up for sale. Although Environment Minister Halvar Johnson dismisses the announcement and claims that AWA is mistaken, AWA produces the leaked government document, dated May 23, 2000, which includes Milk River and Chinchaga on the list of land parcels to be sold in August and September. The AWA claims victory when the two parcels of land are eventually removed from the sale list. AWA calls for transparency and openness so that there is no need to rely on leaked documents.

    December 1999

    An 800km2 tract of land in Chinchaga is designated as a protected area – the Chinchaga Wildland Park – under the Special Places 2000 program. Unfortunately, due to the small size, ongoing industrial use and the lack of representative forests, the new protected area is a disappointment to conservationists. This same month, the provincial government authorizes logging by Daishowa-Marubeni and Manning Diversified Forest Products in another part of Chinchaga.

    October 1999

    Peter Lee of WWF urges province to seriously consider Senate Committee Boreal Forest recommendations.
    AWA holds a rally at Edmonton’s Winston Churchill Square demanding that the provincial government stop industrial development and forestry activity in the Chinchaga.

    June 1999

    Senate Committee Report states Boreal Forest at risk; includes 35 recommendations for forest management

    March 1999

    AWA takes part in a consumer awareness campaign in opposition to Grande Alberta Paper’s logging of the Chinchaga area.

    February 1999

    Logging company Daishowa-Marubeni announces that if Chinchanga becomes a Special Place, it wants to trade its logging quota there for timber in another, unprotected location.

    September 1997

    The Alberta Land and Forest Division adds 450 square miles of forests to the timber license of Manning Diversified Forest Products Ltd. This addition of land includes land set aside by a provincial committee as the Chinchaga Special Place.


    A severe outbreak of Spruce Budworm occurs in Chinchaga.


    Spruce Budworm first recorded in Chinchaga.


    Fire burns 10,000 square kilometres of the Chinchaga area.

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